Sunday, October 11, 2009

What's missing from today's New York Times stadium story? The Atlantic Yards arena and clarity about PILOTs

The New York Times Sports section has an interesting story today headlined In East Rutherford, N.J., New Football Stadium, but at Whose Cost?

The article begins:
What is the new $1.6 billion Giants and Jets stadium worth? That is the question tax assessors in East Rutherford, N.J., will be asking in the coming weeks.

This is no academic exercise, but is central to the debate over the use of public dollars to help privately owned sports franchises and, closer to home, aid New Jersey’s efforts to keep the teams playing in the state for another generation.

The stadium, which is scheduled to open next year, is in East Rutherford, and the borough naturally wants to collect taxes that any private business in its borders would have to pay. But the stadium sits on land owned by the New Jersey Sports and Exhibition Authority, a tax-exempt organization created by the state in 1971 to run the sporta arenas in the Meadowlands and elsewhere in New Jersey.


And what about AY?

Only in the last paragraph does the article take a wider view:
The Mets and the Yankees also make payments in lieu of taxes in New York City, the payments roughly equal to the debt payments the teams have to pay on their bonds. The owners of Madison Square Garden have been exempted from paying property taxes since 1982, costing New York City hundreds of millions of dollars.

You'd think the Times also would include the financing scheme for the Atlantic Yards arena, which is essentially the same as that for the baseball stadiums.

And readers of the first sentence in the paragraph above might be led astray. The Mets and Yankees are not making PILOTs to the city along with the debt payments on their bonds. They're using the PILOTs to pay off the bonds. More here.

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